5 reasons why the lecture is on its last leg

One of the earliest proponents of TBL is Duke University, which partnered with the Team-Based Learning Collaborative in 2012.

Dr. Stephen Craig, a chemistry instructor at Duke, said he’s given up on lectures, instead preferring to have his students spend their class time learning from each other by working in teams to solve problems.

“When they run into trouble, they can refer to a bevy of multimedia resources that [I’ve] provided or lean on knowledge gleaned from readings they do before class,” explained Craig in an article for Duke University.

Craig describes these five reasons why team-based learning beats the lecture:

1. More faculty-student interaction

“Instead of using class time to deliver what I believe students need to hear, the majority of my in-class energy is spent responding to specific questions raised by students who have already struggled with a topic,” said Craig.

In a lecture class, these interactions are limited to office hours, but with team-based learning, they constitute a much larger fraction of face time with students, he said.

Craig also explained that these interactions give him a better sense of how the whole group is processing the material each time everyone meets.

2. More student-student interaction

The TeamLEAD program at the Duke Singapore medical school showed that team-based learning actively enhances the knowledge, insight and curiosity of other Duke students.

“…these peer interactions do more than build collaborative problem-solving skills; they provide more honest exchanges and more accessible explanations than happen between me and individual students,” said Craig.

3. More challenges 

“One of the great pleasures for me has been to see how quickly the barriers to openly challenging a concept or answer have dropped, relative to a large lecture class. I suspect this comes both from the substantial time spent in small group discussions, and from the new role I play in class: less as the source of content, and more as someone who facilitates understanding.”

4.  More variety

Craig explained that though he’s “always enjoyed lecturing,” and that there’s a part of him that very much misses the exhilaration that comes with lecturing on a topic he enjoys, it has been “great fun to work combination demonstration-problems, case studies and student design projects into class time, where I can be involved in the discussion.”

5.  More flexibility

The burden of covering a certain set of topics is met prior to class, and so the activities and interactions during class time can be weighted (and adjusted on the fly) toward those that are most valuable or interesting to the class, concluded Craig.

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